All over Bulgaria, countless parents have been going on last-minute shopping sprees with their school-going children in recent days. Since some schools had provided literature lists on their websites, many parents even knew which books to buy. Those who did not know yet, bought notebooks and pens. Many children got haircuts and new clothes. But, the big question is: Will those smartphones, with thousands of useless games on them, prevail? Or will our kids actually inhale all the wisdom coming towards them at school?
Some schools uploaded pretty useful information on time, like the precise time their students should show up on their first day after the summer vacation, and what room they should look for. In other institutions, such as school no. 32, St. Kliment Ochridski, with 2000 pupils, they provided the information only yesterday evening, after hundreds of parents had called each other, since nobody knew anything until a few hours before school was supposed to start. In short: The absence of information can lead to some chaos. And it did.
In most private schools, which charge tuitions anywhere between 4,000 and 16,000 Euro per year, classes started two weeks earlier. Some kids are being taken to these education temples by their own chauffeur, in Bentleys and other luxury sedans. This kind of clientele is often hard to satisfy. That applies to both parents and kids. But private school kids are a minority. Some of their parents have come to the conclusion that there is hardly any difference between private and public schools, in the sense that many teachers are not motivated at expensive schools either. A mother of a 17-year old private school student said: “Teachers are not motivated. Therefore he needed private classes at home a lot. Had he been in the public school system, it would have been the same.”
But, in theory, teachers in private schools should be motivated more, since they earn up to three times as much as teachers paid by the state. Depending on their location, the latter make only 300 to 500 Euro per month.
In most countries, the educational system has a lot to complain about. Over here in Bulgaria, it would be the fact that there are not enough school buildings. That is why usually two public schools share one building. And that means, half the students will be taught in the morning, the other half in the afternoon, and into the evening. More problems? Plenty. There are English teachers, who do not speak a word of English. There are teachers, who come into the classroom, in order to tell the kids they should read a chapter in the book, which they could have done at home. But there are other sources for problems too. Some parents are failing, what the upbringing of their kids is concerned, and this has consequences for their behaviour in class, and their ability to learn and concentrate.
In the Bulgarian school system, kids basically stay in primary school until 7th grade, in which they will have to pass a huge exam in all subjects, called Matura. Depending on their grades, they will be able to choose the best schools or the worst. That is what it is like in Sofia. For the best school, e.g. Galabov or the English Language School, straight “A” grades are necessary. In 12th grade, the students have to pass another Matura exam, and they are ready to rumble.
Anyway, school starts today. Good luck to all students, parents and teachers.
The worst part of the first school day will not be whatever happens in class, but on the streets of Sofia. Rather big traffic jams are expected.